Armored Attack 1944, US Army Tank Combat in the European Theater from D-Day to the Battle of the Bulge. By Steven Zaloga. Hard covers, 8.5 x 10-inches, 503 pages. Contains 1,217 B&W photos and index. ISBN 978-0-8117-0769-5.
Armored Victory 1945, US Army Tank Combat in the European Theater from the Battle of the Bulge to Germanys Surrender. By: Steven Zaloga. Hard covers, 8.5 x 10-inches, 504 pages. Contains: 1,207 B&W photos and index. ISBN 978-0-8117-0771-8.
A few years ago, Mr. Zaloga published a comprehensive look at the conception, development and deployment of the US M4 medium tank, commonly known by its British designation, at the General Sherman, or more colloquially, the Sherman Tank. That book, Armored Thunderbolt has been the subject of a recent report, here at ToT. As a related follow-up, Armored Attack 1944, and then Armored Victory, 1945 were released several years later. The second volume saw the light of day early in 2012, making this a good time to report on both books as individual efforts and as part of the whole.
These two books are basically photo-chronicles covering armored combat in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), from prior to the invasion of Normandy, through the surrender in 1945. Each volume is broken down into chronological order, by chapter, with images specific to the chapter following a brief introduction.
The chapters in volume one are as follows:
1. Preparing for Overlord; 124 photographs.
2. D-Day: The Overlord Invasion; 54 photographs.
3. The Battle for Normandy; 95 photographs.
4. Operation Cobra: The Normandy Breakout; 93 photographs.
5. Breakthrough to the Seine; 116 photographs.
6. On to Paris!; 70 photographs.
7. The Other D-Day: Operation Dragoon; 51 photographs.
8. Toward the Reich; 105 photographs.
9. The Siegfried Line; 218 photographs.
10. Across the Vosges to the Rhine; 83 photographs.
11. The Battle of the Bulge Begins; 193 photographs.
The chapters in volume two are as follows:
1. Crushing the Bulge; 231 photos.
2. Operation Nordwind; 125 photos.
3. Operation Grenade: Over the Roer; 175 photos.
4. Over the Rhine; 280 photos.
5. Into Central Germany; 219 photos.
6. On to Berlin; 84 photos.
7. The Shape of Things to Come; 93 photos.
Although most of the chapter headings are self-explanatory, two require further explanation: Preparing for Overlord (Vol.1) and The Shape of Things to Come (Vol.2). The former chapter shows some developmental types and training in the UK, while the latter delves into US AFVs that would have come on-line had the war continued.
While the majority of the images cover virtually every tank and other tracked AFVs deployed, other items of equipment are given coverage as well. This includes ordnance, SPs, tractors, half-tracks and various amphibious types. Vehicle modifications, especially regarding the M4 medium tank are shown. These mods included additional protection (in various forms) as added by field workshops or more formal programs, additional weapons fits (usually rockets and sometimes flame-throwers), deep-wading fittings, bulldozer blades, hedgerow penetration devices, mine flails and rollers, etc.
Occasionally, AFVs used by French and British/Commonwealth formations is shown, usually when US and Allied units worked parallel to each other at a junction between units. A large number of the images are devoted to German tanks, SPs, half-tracks and anti-tank ordnance, for the sake of a balanced presentation. Likewise a good proportion of the images depict the various German fortifications that US tanks might come up against. In short, the variety here is tremendous, but germane to the story in the form that the author has chosen.
Photo captions are generally informative and sometimes quite extensive. With a bit over 2.400 images presented, some errors in captioning are bound to occur; out of this number I discovered a mere FIVE captioning errors or related glitches. Percentage-wise, this is miniscule. Therefore I only mention them to help avoid any confusion they may cause.
Page 162, bottom, is a 10.5cm FlaK38/39, not an 8.8cm FlaK.
Page 361, bottom, is an Sd.Kfz.7/2, not a 7/1.
Page 166, is an M4A3 105mm (not an M4) identified by the engine deck.
I also discovered that the images seen on page 498, in Vol.1, are repeated in Vol.2 on page 54.
All photos are reproduced on glossy, coated paper stock for maximum fidelity. In general, photo reproduction is fine, particularly in Vol.2. Vol.1, however suffers from inconsistent reproduction. In many cases the images are what my photography school teacher would term as flat. This means that most of the image lacks any pure white or pure black areas. In Vol.1, on page 345, bottom, the photo illustrates optimal photo reproduction, especially when compared to images opposite, on page 344.
One must also understand that a large number of the included images have been seen before in many of the authors dozens of previous titles. However, a significant proportion of them are new. I have most of the authors books in my library, yet I am content to go out and purchase these guys because of their mode of presentation and the fact that ALL of those disparate images are essentially in one place!
Students of armored combat by the US Army against Germany in the ETO, will certainly want these books. Modelers will also get lost for hours between these covers while searching for that special photo upon which their latest creation will be based. As a photo-chronicle and a window into a specific era of US armored combat, these two volumes will be hard to beat.
Frank V. De Sisto
Stackpole Books are available through their web-site at: stackpolebooks.com. My copies was purchased on-line for approximately 30% less than list price, including shipping.
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